Today we are releasing all the accounts and related content associated with potential information operations that we have found on our service since 2016. We had previously disclosed these activities, but are now releasing substantially more information about them to enable independent academic research and investigation.
This is the continuation of our overarching mission to serve the public conversation.
Why are we doing this?
Earlier this year, we committed to the United States Congress and the public to provide regular updates and information regarding our investigation into foreign interference in political conversations on Twitter. Since that time, we have shared examples of these types of content posted on Twitter by the Internet Research Agency (IRA) and provided the public with a direct notice if they interacted with these accounts. In August, we also disclosed details of another attempted influence campaign we identified as potentially located within Iran.
In line with our strong principles of transparency and with the goal of improving understanding of foreign influence and information campaigns, we are releasing the full, comprehensive archives of the Tweets and media that are connected with these two previously disclosed and potentially state-backed operations on our service. We are making this data available with the goal of encouraging open research and investigation of these behaviors from researchers and academics around the world.
These large datasets comprise 3,841* accounts affiliated with the IRA, originating in Russia, and 770 other accounts, potentially originating in Iran. They include more than 10 million Tweets and more than 2 million images, GIFs, videos, and Periscope broadcasts, including the earliest on-Twitter activity from accounts connected with these campaigns, dating back to 2009.
It is clear that information operations and coordinated inauthentic behavior will not cease. These types of tactics have been around for far longer than Twitter has existed — they will adapt and change as the geopolitical terrain evolves worldwide and as new technologies emerge. For our part, we are committed to understanding how bad-faith actors use our services. We will continue to proactively combat nefarious attempts to undermine the integrity of Twitter, while partnering with civil society, government, our industry peers, and researchers to improve our collective understanding of coordinated attempts to interfere in the public conversation. Our dedicated site integrity team, in partnership with a diverse range of committed organizations and personnel across the company, continue to invest heavily in this area. We are constantly seeking to improve our own ability to detect, understand, and neutralize these campaigns as quickly and robustly as technically possible.
Independent analysis of this activity by researchers is a key step toward promoting shared understanding of these threats. To support this effort, we have provided early access to a small group of researchers with specific expertise in these issues. Working with law enforcement and the authorities will always be our first priority, but we strongly believe that this level of transparency can enhance the health of the public conversation on the internet. This is our singular mission.
To learn more about what is included and how researchers can download the datasets, visit our dedicated Elections Integrity Hub.
*In this case, we initially misidentified 228 accounts as connected to Russia. As our investigations into their activity continued, we uncovered additional information allowing us to more confidently associate them with Venezuela. More here.
Did someone say … cookies?